OneNote 2013 is now 100% free

Microsoft OneNote is a great way to share notes and ideas without the limits of a traditional word processor.  OneNote is like a sandbox for your ideas where you can tumble, flip and wrestle them until you discover something brilliant and exclaim:


OneNote let’s you type or write anywhere on the screen and directly insert photos, spreadsheets, audio and video clips into the document.  It’s a great way to brainstorm or make a shopping list.  You can also get creative and use it to:

  • Scan and catalog your receipts and invoices (because everything is searchable)
  • Store lecture or meeting notes with tabs
  • Track software product keys
  • Organize voice memos

The options are truly endless.

In the past, Microsoft offered a restricted version of OneNote that was limited to the paid version of Office 365 subscribers.  But last Friday, Brad Corob, Program Manager for the OneNote team, announced that all restrictions have been removed.

Here are the best features that are now gratis:

Password Protected Sections

Now you can password protect any tab (section) that contains private information.  I still wouldn’t use this to password protect a list of passwords (use LastPass for that) but it might be a great place to protect something like your product keys.

That’s what I’m using for.

Password Protected Sections in OneNote

Page History

Page History is the closest thing to a time machine that ever came out of Redmond Washington.

Clicking the History tab shows you previous changes so you can easily excise all the curse words from that angry message draft you were going to send your boss.

I like using Page History to “undo” my work.  I’m working on an eBook and it’s nice to know I can also jump back in time to previous renditions of my notes.

Page History in OneNote

 Audio and Video Recording

One of the nicest things about OneNote is that you can record audio and video directly into a notebook.

Click the Insert tab and choose Record Audio or Record Video from the Ribbon.

Recording Audio and Video in OneNote 2013

All your media gets merged into the current document.

Having fun recording videos in OneNote 2013

The best part is you can search for a specific word or phrase that comes up in your video and audio files.

Just go to the File tab, choose Options and click Audio & Video from the left pane.  You can enable audio and video search near the bottom of the window.

Using Audio Search in OneNote 2013

Everything is N’Sync

Say bye, bye, bye to unsynced files.

All your notes are automatically saved to OneDrive and sync up with all your devices.  And since you can now get 130GB of free space with OneDrive there’s really no reason not to use OneNote.

The only potential disadvantage is that you can’t save your files locally but – so what?  You shouldn’t be saving your stuff exclusively to your hard drive anyway.  What happens if your sketchy roommate steals your computer or your dilapidated hard drive dies?  Yeah, I feel no pity – you should have used OneDrive.

How I use OneNote

I’m currently working on another project (sshh it’s top secret) and it’s really easy to record random ideas throughout the day.  I’m using the OneNote iPhone app and all my notes are grouped into colorful tabs and sectioned into logical divisions.

Microsoft OneNote on iOS 8 using Tabs

Adding notes are easier than stealing a rattle from a baby and everything is searchable and editable.

I can also add photos by tapping the photo icon in the lower left corner of my iPhone or add a checklist by touching the checkbox icon.

Microsoft OneNote on iOS 8

Get OneNote Now

To get your free version of OneNote, go to and grab the 32bit or 64bit version.

Don’t delay, act now! hahaa. Many I sound like a sleezy used car salesman.

The Bottom Line

Get over your fear of saving stuff to the cloud.  Cloud computing is here to stay and will only become more pervasive.  Saving your stuff to OneDrive is the smart way to go because it’s basically an automatic backup.

By the way, if you don’t see the new features make sure your version of OneNote is updated to at least 15.0.4693.1000.

OneNote version

Do you use OneNote?  What do you think of the feature restriction lift?  Is it worth it?  Let me know in the comments!


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